Tag Archives: Family

To catch a fugitive: Christmas Edition

30 Dec

Image source: google images

My sister lives about 30 minutes from my parents, so our tradition is to drive up and have dinner with her family on Christmas Eve. This year was no exception and it was almost 9pm when we pulled out of her driveway to return to my parents’ for the night.

Ten minutes later we were stopped at a red light near Briarwood Mall. Through the intersection, we saw three cars, all parked in weird places and at odd angles. Steam rose from the hood of the third car. “Do you suppose there’s been an accident?” my mom asked.

We were still puzzling it out when the third car suddenly reversed and peeled out, flying toward the mall and away from the accident at a break-neck pace. “Do you think he’s fleeing the scene?” my dad asked from the backseat.

That was the only nudge my mom needed to zip through the light and investigate. She pulled through the intersection, pausing next to the remaining car, where a man was standing outside it on his phone, looking incredulous. “Did that guy hit you?” my mom called out to him.

The guy confirmed that he had. “And did he just take off?” my mom continued. Again, the guy nodded. “Yeah – he just hit me and left. Can you believe that?”

“I’ll see if I can get him,” my mom told him, goosing her Prius into  action. Had she owned a police light, she would’ve rolled her window down and smacked it on the roof. We sped into the Briarwood complex, the parking lot and surrounding streets deserted from the earlier crush of shoppers.

As we started winding our way along the street circling the mall, something caught my mom’s eye off to the side. There, parked at a drive-thru bank, was a car with its lights off, steam still rising from its hood. “That’s him!” she yelled, cutting a wide, obvious u-turn to circle back to the bank.

Time-out as we assess my mom’s performance as a private eye for a moment:

  • Pros: eagle eye, fearlessness
  • Cons: discretion, stealth

No sooner had we pulled into the bank parking lot than the “perp” hopped back in his car and sped away. (He’d been standing outside it, presumably assessing the damage and calling a friend to pick him up). Mom, no shrinking violet (see pros listed above), pulled out right after him yelling for me to call the police.

What then ensued was was a game of cat and mouse as we tailed this guy all through the Briarwood parking lot, with my mom trying to get close enough for us to read the license plate, my dad trying to figure out the last four digits on the plate, and me shouting the letters we could see to the police dispatch, all as the guy did his best to lose us. It was a scene worthy of Home Alone.

Finally the guy DID manage to lose us – mainly because I urged my mom to stop matching his speed. (Sorry, mom!) We’d only been able to identify three of the seven digits for the police, but they also had the make/model and year of the vehicle, so between that and the fact that his radiator was probably out of fluid and would grind the car to a halt soon, they seemed fairly confident they’d find him.

“If only you guys had let me really chase him, we could’ve nailed his ass,” Mom sighed.

“Well, if you’d been driving my van, we could’ve used my binoculars to get the plate without needing to chase him,” Dad sighed.

At that I had to laugh, imagining the call the police would’ve received about US if my parents had gotten their Christmas wishes:

Image Source: http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_nkdggYHwcLc/S2nAWRTFJ3I/AAAAAAAAAuE/hvEaRCQoHMY/s320/prius2042.JPG

“I’d like to report a Prius driving recklessly in the Briarwood parking lot. It’s going about 60 mph, ignoring the pavement markers. It appears to be driven by two white-haired grandparents – and one of them seems to be trying to birdwatch!” 


However you spent YOUR Christmas, I hope it was memorable! 

I know this game!

1 Sep

Memory Game

“The first part of your memory to go,” my mom says, looking over the mug of her coffee one morning while I’m home in Michigan for a few days, “is the part in charge of names.”

She’s telling me this shortly after I witnessed my parents playing a game I’ve mentally dubbed “What Is His Name?”, during which they throw each other prompts to try to come up with the name of someone critical to a story one of them wants to tell.

Sometimes the game can be more like “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” where they arrive at the person’s name by tracking back through kinfolk, neighbors, teachers and friends. “Remember that kid? He was in Sandy’s class in sixth grade… his mother was married to the brother of the owner of the Independent Dairy… they lived in the house that the Webbers now live in… and you’d see him out every morning walking his dog. What was his name?”

This morning though, it’s a more entertaining version of the game because it takes me to a place where my imagination is fully engaged:

“You remember – what was her name?” my dad began.

“They lived over on Anderson Street,” he continued.

“Oh, I can picture her,” my mom said, nodding like a psychic confirming her hunch.

“She’s the girl I squirted in the mouth with toad juice,” he added.

BOOM. Microphone drop. How often has THAT surfaced as memory-jogging detail in one of YOUR stories? I’m going to guess NEVER. And think of all the possibilities that it evokes. How do you squirt toad juice on someone? What scenario even makes this possible? Was it deliberate or an accident? What IS toad juice?

Regardless, while the part of the brain that’s in charge of names might be off on vacation, clearly the rest of it – responsible for managing all the other details accumulated over a lifetime – is ticking along just fine. If it were me, I’d just make up nicknames on the fly and rename people as I told stories. In this example, the protagonist would’ve been Toad Mouth out of the gate.

Speaking of, I better run. Gotta go see Tea Girl before I greet Eager Early Coworker at my office.


‘Tis the Beacon for the Season

24 Dec

Image Source: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-15op1DWkm5E/UME2G9SpPzI/AAAAAAAAjWM/PZ6ynAd7O4Q/s1600/small%2Bcar%2Bbig%2Bchristmas%2Btree.jpg

Shortly after arriving in Michigan, I sent my sister a photo of my parents’ Christmas tree with the message, “Can we discuss how ginormous this tree is?” It’s like the dream tree from The Nutcracker. I’m not exaggerating when I estimate it to be 16 feet tall.

As someone who has struggled in the past to drag home an 8’ tree and get it upright in a stand, I’m in awe of my septuagenarian parents for somehow managing to wrangle this beast on their own. It seriously doesn’t even look like it would fit through the door.

It’s so massive that when the UPS guy showed up with a delivery, my mom caught him squatting on the front stoop, trying to look in through the door. When she asked if she could help him he said, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a tree that big,” so she invited him in for a proper viewing. He was so blown away she half-expected him to return with his wife.

This 16-footer is not the tree of my childhood. No. We lived in a small Cape Cod-style home when I was growing up, tucking a tree into a corner of the living room only after we rearranged the furniture to make room for it.  My mom – for whom Christmas is THE event of the year – always lamented that she couldn’t have a bigger tree. So now she’s making up for lost time.

Oh, we still had our fair share of memorable trees when we lived on Ideal Street. (And yes, that was actually the name of our street in small-town Michigan.)

Like the year the tree fell in the middle of the night, sounding like a burglar had smashed through the picture window of the living room. Or the year I got a pellet gun for Christmas and used the ornaments for target practice while my parents were out of the room.

One of the most re-told Christmas tree stories in our family is of the year I had my driver’s permit and was allowed to drive to the tree farm. We’d left our minivan (which had a MANUAL transmission and drove like a bus) near the entrance of the property as we walked the lanes to find the perfect tree. Once we’d made our pick, my dad began sawing and sent me back to retrieve the van.

From my perspective: As a new driver, it was challenging to handle the irregular terrain while working out the nuances of shifting, so I simply worked my way up to third gear and stayed there. From my family’s perspective: After cutting the tree, they looked up to see their red minivan flying across the field to them, bouncing as it hit each raised row. I still remember the hand gestures as they tried to get me to slow down and take a more gentle approach. Didn’t happen.

One of the cool things about where my parents live now is that I can look out the window and see our past Christmas trees, propped against other trees all down through the woods leading to the river. Sure, their needles have all fallen, but they provide cover when a hawk comes flying through, looking for prey.

Objectively, it’s kind of a crazy tradition, putting a tree in the middle of your home for a few weeks each year and wrapping it in lights. And yet, they’re so much more than simply pretty decorations. These trees serve as beacons, pulling people across the miles each year to spend time with their families and friends, if even for a few days.

So Merry Christmas to you! And if you don’t have a tree up, then seek out someone who does – they’ve already invited you.

Go ahead, make a wish.

8 Apr
NOT my aunt.

NOT my aunt.

I was largely offline this last week because I was in Florida with my family for my aunt’s 85th birthday. She’s a rockstar.

We celebrated her big day over a large lunch on Easter. Sitting at the table together, we saw an ambulance pass through the parking lot of her complex, followed by two police cars. “What’s going on?” someone asked.

“Meat wagon,” my cousin (her son) responded.

“Huh?” I was confused.

“You’re in a senior community. People drop like flies around here. One a week,” he explained between bites of honey-baked ham.

My sister and I exchanged an uneasy look. Um, isn’t it a bit awkward to talk about death when the reason we’re together is to mark someone’s advanced age? 

The meal continued and mercifully, the topic changed. Until we got to dessert.

Just as my aunt prepared to blow out her candles, her partner (who had run over to their other place to fetch ice cream from their other condo) came through the door and said, “Guess what?”

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I usually expect those words (especially when uttered at a birthday party) to introduce an exciting/surprising/generally positive follow-up statement.

So we all looked up in anticipation. “The ambulance?” he continued, gesturing over his shoulder to a unit down the way, “It was here for Karen. Turns out she died last night.”

Awkward silence.

Followed by blowing out the candles.

Pretty sure we can all guess Auntie Fran’s wish.

Image Source: http://www.nomorefriends.net/

Well, so much for maintaining an aura of mystery.

7 Jul

For someone who contemplated writing about almost crapping her pants at yoga earlier this week (note: I said ALMOST), I’m a surprisingly private person. I have virtually no boundaries when it comes to things that other people may classify as “TMI,” but I’m fiercely guarded about others. Weird, right?

As a child, I would disappear into our basement for hours on end and refuse to tell my parents what I was working on. (It generally involved a craft book and some contraband. True story: I once tried to sew a leather purse out of multiple gloves I’d stolen from lost-and-found boxes. That’s kind of like trying to build an Ark out of popsicle sticks. Except when your mom finds a dozen mismatched leather gloves in your sewing kit, she’s probably a bit more suspicious.)

So imagine my surprise at being featured on WordPress’s Freshly Pressed yesterday morning: Holy shit.

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